Sleight of Hand

Le'letha

Summary: The Enterprise-D receives some unusual (and unsolicited) help in tracking down a rogue ship with a dangerous cargo.

Crossover Warning: This is a Star Trek: The Next Generation-- Yu Yu Hakusho crossover. However, you do not need to be familiar with Yu Yu Hakusho to read this. Anything new should be treated like anything unfamiliar in the show/books (of TNG). I promise to explain everything that might possibly be confusing. You are welcome to ask via review if something is unclear. (POST-COMPLETION NOTICE, 9.20.2006: Since more and more of these crossovers are turning up, I'd like to establish that I had this idea FIRST! (glares possessively) Anyone is welcome to prove me wrong.)

Disclaimer: The only person who can steal the Enterprise and get away with it is Jim Kirk. Do I look like Kirk to you? (The correct answer is NO.)


Chapter One: Back on the Road With Conditions

"Jean-Luc!"

Captain Picard started slightly and spun his chair around, turning to face his ready room desk and the active communicator screen.

"Admiral Lasham," he greeted her formally.

The brunette on the viewscreen crossed her eyes and stuck out her tongue impishly at the Starfleet captain, who smiled tolerantly and amended, "Carina."

"Thank you," she said waspishly, before her erratic mood swung back to happy-go-lucky. "Ready to get out of here, Jean-Luc?"

"Oh, more than," he said with a completely straight face, absently bookmarking his copy of A Christmas Carol, which he'd been re-reading absently. "I need to get my crew away before you can terrorize them even more. Are you finally letting us go?"

Carina chuckled evilly. "Maybe."

Captain Picard picked up his book again and settled back in his chair. In the week and a half the Enterprise-D had been docked at Starbase 263, he'd discovered that the best and probably only way to pry information out of the eccentric coughnutsocough Admiral Carina Lasham was to wait her out. She had no patience whatsoever and a natural ebullience that made her the strangest candidate for an Admiralty Picard could think of. Yet here she was, and in command of a Starbase, no less.

"Awww," she whined before fifteen seconds had passed. "You were supposed to guess! You have no sense of fun."

"Guilty as charged," he murmured.

"All right, all right, I'll tell you. Care for a detour, Jean-Luc?"

"A detour?" he asked, looking over his book and raising one eyebrow.

"Well, not really, as you're going to the Sierra sector anyway. It's not that far out of your way…"

Captain Picard put down his book again and looked her straight in the eye. "Carina. In less than twenty words, tell me what this 'detour' is that you're preparing to send the Enterprise on."

She rolled her eyes, dropping the illusion of airhead-ness for a few minutes. "All right. Simply speaking, Starbase 263 has, for the last month, been home to a colonization party- refugees from a civil war on their home planet. They were headed out to Lima Sierra IV, where there is, in fact, already a colony. They were going to reinforce the colony, after a fashion. But…no ship."

Picard was beginning to see where she was going with this. "You want the Enterprise to transport who knows how many colonists to the Lima Sierra system, on our way to tracking down and catching a stolen ship with a hazardous cargo? How many are there, anyway?"

"Um," she fluttered for a moment, shoving PADDs across her desk, and, from the sounds that echoed over the commlink, onto the floor, energetically. Clatter, crash, crunch, went the scattered PADDs. "Ah ha!" She held one up. "Darn paperwork," she muttered to herself, scanning the report quickly. "Two hundred forty-nine, all human," the Admiral said finally. "Here, I'll transmit this to your terminal." She reached off-screen and Picard saw a small icon appear on his own screen. With a few swift keystrokes, he downloaded it to a PADD and set it aside.

"Carina, I don't think this is a good idea," he warned her. "The Enterprise is supposed to be tracking down Alameda, not ferrying colonists to and fro. If we get into a battle, which is almost guaranteed, we'll have two hundred and fifty more civilians on board."

Carina laced her fingers together and rested her chin on them, fluttering her eyelashes outrageously girlishly. "Please?"

He couldn't help but smile slightly. "You're the admiral."

She double taked ridiculously. "Why, what do you know, I believe you're right. Jean-Luc…I am hereby ordering you and the Enterprise to convey the Lima Sierra IV colonists to their destination en route to your pursuit and capture of the rogue vessel Alameda. And may God have mercy on your soul," she added with a smirk.

"So noted," he said with a sigh.

"And logged?"

"And logged."

"Good! Let me know when you're prepared to beam them aboard, and then I will release you from my grasp. Lasham out." The screen blinked dark for a moment and then the Federation symbol, with End Transmission in nice neat blue letters beneath it, appeared for a brief moment before vanishing too.

Captain Picard sighed and tapped his commbadge. "Picard to Maintenance."

"Lieutenant Whitley here, Captain; can I help you?"

"You can send a team to Cargo Bays five and six and transform them into temporary living quarters for two hundred and fifty human colonists. We're acquiring some new passengers."

"Acknowledged, Captain," Whitley's voice crackled over the commbadge. "We'll get right to it. Maintenance out."

The captain stood with a sigh and twitched his uniform back into place. Abandoning his book, he strode out onto the bridge.

"Captain," his second-in-command Will Riker acknowledged respectfully, surrendering the center chair to his superior. Once he'd sat down, he said softly, "Are we finally getting out of here? No offense to 263, but I'm ready to get back in open space again."

"Oh, we're back on the road, but we've got 250 passengers to pick up first," he said wryly.

"Did I miss something?"

"Only Carina as she flew by. Enterprise has been commandeered to convey a group of colonists to Lima Sierra IV."

"We've been sent to catch a pirated ship and she's saddling us with passengers?"

"Do you want to go argue with her, Number One?"

Riker openly shuddered. "Not me."

"We're transporting two hundred and fifty people?" Worf growled from the security arch above their heads.

"Yes, but they'll be confined to the cargo bays, I'd imagine. I trust you to make sufficient security arrangements," Picard covered smoothly to ease his security chief's temper.

"Security will not be a problem," the Klingon rumbled.

"Good," the captain responded and began to page through the report on the Lima Sierra colony.

"Lima Sierra…the name's familiar," mused Deanna Troi, ship's counselor. "Orbital anomalies?"

"Yes- good memory," the captain responded absently, still skimming. "Who else will need to be informed of our new cargo?"

"Well, everyone will find out on the grapevine anyway," the Betazoid said. "'The only thing that travels faster than starships is news,' after all. But Doctor Crusher should probably be informed, as a matter of course. She'll be very upset if one of her nurses tells her and we knew all along. And, of course, if there are any problems."

"You mean if I knew all along," Captain Picard said wryly, not wanting to risk a confrontation with Beverly Crusher. "And despite her…eccentricities, Admiral Lasham runs a pretty tight starbase. I don't think there will be any medical issues, but we have had our share of problems. I'll inform Dr. Crusher."

With no reason to stay on the bridge, the captain rose and headed for one of the bridge turbolifts. "Deck 12," he said as the doors swooshed quietly closed, addressing the ceiling. The turbolift began to move almost imperceptibly, except for the slight humming sound and the indicator lights flashing across opposite walls. Within seconds, the doors opened softly on Deck 12, with sickbay right round the corner.

He entered to a completely chaotic mess of people running everywhere and talking even faster than they were moving. Someone ran into him, recognized him, apologized at warp speed, and dashed off again.

"Are you dying?" Dr. Crusher asked as she waded over to him through the ocean of people. She looked him over cursorily. "You're fine. Get out of my sickbay. I'm busy."

"What's all this?"

She sighed. "Alyssa, take over for me for a minute." At her head nurse's, "yes ma'am," she looked back at her captain. "Come on. Whatever you have to say, you can't say it out here. I can't even hear myself think anymore." She led him into her office and sat down. He followed suit on the other side of the desk.

"Why so busy?" he asked kindly.

"Would you believe a full quarter of the crew is allergic to daisies?"

"Actually, I wouldn't."

"Well, you'd be wrong. We need to get back into space and have something to do, Captain, the crew is bored stiff. Ensign Allery was experimenting with common plants, and now we have a rash of daisy-fever allergies. I've got people all over the ship complaining. I suppose I should thank you for coming in; I get to sit down for a minute." She leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes with a sigh. "So what's so important that you have to come all the way down here to tell me about it?"

"If you're this busy, I'm not sure I want to tell you."

She opened one eye and glared at him tiredly. "Talk."

"Carina's asked us to take a few people off her hands and transport them to Lima Sierra IV," he summarized, glossing over how many 'a few' actually was.

Unfortunately, Beverly was sharper than that. "How many is a few?"

He sighed. "250."

"Oh."

"I thought you should know."

"I should know. Now I do. If anyone asks where I am, you haven't seen me, got it?" She promptly closed her open eye and, from all appearances, lapsed into sleep. Quietly, the captain left, managing to avoid being conscripted into moving stuff but not quite achieving the feat of not tripping over at least three people before he escaped into the corridor.

AN- Well, soon a plot will develop… please please trust me and keep reading this. Don't make me beg- darn, too late. PLEASE R&R and bear with me as I get this off the ground!